Labour market affiliation among non-bullied colleagues at work units with reported bullying

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2021 Apr;94(3):547-556. doi: 10.1007/s00420-020-01604-8. Epub 2020 Nov 14.


Aim: This study investigates if non-bullied employees in Work units (WUs) where bullying occur, are more prone to leave the WUs than employees in WUs with no bullying, and if the prevalence of workplace bullying had an impact on leaving the WUs. Leaving the workplace was defined by unemployment or change of workplace at follow-up.

Methods: We had data from 8326 Danish public health invited employees from 302 WUs. Of these 3036 responded to a questionnaire on working conditions and health in 2007. WUs were classified into three categories of WUs: (1) no bullying (0% bullied), (2) moderate prevalence of bullying (< 10% bullied), and (3) high prevalence of bullying (≥ 10% bullied). Bullied respondents were used to classify the WUs and excluded in the analyses.

Results: We found odds ratios (ORs) for unemployment 1 year later of 1.27 [95% CI 0.69-2.37] in WUs with moderate prevalence of bullying and 1.38 [95% CI 0.85-2.23] among employed in WUs with high prevalence of bullying, adjusted for size of WUs, age, sex, and job category. For turnover 1 year later the ORs were 1.27 [95% CI 0.78-2.15] and 1.46 [95% CI 0.99-2.15] in WUs with moderate and high prevalence of bullying, respectively.

Conclusion: We did not find that non-bullied employees leave the WUs with moderate and high prevalence of bullying more than employees in WUs with no bullying behaviour 1 year later. Leaving the workplace tended to be higher among employees in WUs with high prevalence of bullying compared to no and moderate bullying.

Keywords: Bullying; Non-bullied colleagues; Turnover; Unemployment; Work units.

MeSH terms

  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Personnel Turnover*
  • Unemployment*
  • Workplace / psychology*